Latest Channel 4 News:
Row over Malaysian state's coins
'Four shot at abandoned mine shaft'
Rain fails to stop Moscow wildfires
Cancer blow for identical twins
Need for Afghan progress 'signs'

Defence cuts will pay for Afghanistan boost

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 15 December 2009

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth has announced a wave of cuts to the defence programme to pay for extra support in Afghanistan.

UK troops in Afghanistan. (Credit: Getty)

Over the next three years £900m will be spent on making body-armour and night-vision goggles available to 50 per cent more of the troops involved in the current campaign.

Britain will also buy a seventh C-17 Globemaster military transport plane and 22 new Chinook aircraft.

Better radio and satellite kit will help improve communications. Extra funding will also go into surveillance capabilities and defensive kit for the Hercules fleet.

But RAF Cottesmore in Rutland will close and two Royal Navy vessels will be withdrawn to balance the books.

Mr Ainsworth said "support for our operations in Afghanistan is our main effort" as he tempered the announcement with details of major cuts in other areas.

The number of civilians working in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will be reduced.

The RAF will lose a Harrier squadron, the Nimrod MR2 spy plane will be withdrawn from service 12 months early and the introduction of the MRA4 model will be slowed.

He justified the cuts, saying: "The defence budget has had the longest period of sustained real growth since the 1980s. It's now £35.4bn - over 10 per cent more in real terms than 1997.

"Not a single penny is being cut from the defence budget in the year 2010-2011.

"But acute cost pressures remain. Tough choices are required.

"I'm determined to ensure that those that put themselves in harm's way on our behalf are properly resourced."

He also announced a temporary reduction in some aspects of army training.

Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox said the cuts were being imposed not because of a reassessment of Britain's strategic needs but because of ministers' "catastrophic economic management".

Send this article by email

More on this story

Channel 4 is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Watch the Latest Channel 4 News

Watch Channel 4 News when you want

Latest Domestic politics news

More News blogs

View RSS feed

Cartoon coalition


How Channel 4 News viewers picture the coalition in cartoon form

Token candidate?

Labour leadership candidate Diane Abbott (credit:Getty Images)

Diane Abbott: I am the genuine move-on candidate for Labour

'Mr Ordinary'

Andy Burnham, Getty images

Andy Burnham targets Labour's 'ordinary' person.

Iraq inquiry: day by day

Tony Blair mask burnt during protest outside the Iraq inquiry. (Credit: Getty)

Keep track of Sir John Chilcot's Iraq war findings day by day.

The Freedom Files

Freedom Files

Revealed: the stories they didn't want to tell.

Making a FoI request?

Channel 4 News tells you how to unearth information.

Channel 4 © 2010. Channel 4 is not responsible for the content of external websites.